ARLINGTON, VA. — Electronics recycling may just be gaining momentum, but a group of stakeholders could have a national framework for joint responsibility in a year's time.
A group of manufacturers, recyclers and government representatives gathered April 24 to kick off the National Electronic Products Stewardship Initiative. The group will address inconsistencies of state regulations and economies-of-scale issues.
"The main thing we hope to do is [create] a framework for product stewardship for electronics agreed upon by as many stakeholders as possible," said Gary Davis, initiative facilitator and director of the University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies.
Attendees as diverse as Panasonic, Waste Management Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., the Environmental Protection Agency and some state officials outlined a year's worth of talks on nationwide electronics recycling.
Most of the agenda is still under discussion, Davis said. The group has proposed six meetings during the next 12 months and has agreed to include in its initial scope television sets, computer monitors, central processing units and peripherals.
"If we can achieve an agreement for these product categories, it will be much easier to add others later," Davis said.
Future talks may include joint responsibility, financial issues, market development and design-for-recycling initiatives. Procurement issues are not likely to be on the agenda, Davis said. The next meeting will be in May at an undetermined site.
Formation of the initiative follows a national trend. The Northeast Recycling Council and the Western Electronic Product Stewardship Initiative are tackling the issue regionally. Minnesota has created a policy framework for stewardship.
In December, the University of Massachusetts opened the Product Stewardship Institute, which will coordinate state and local efforts for the national project.
"The interest of these organizations and other states [has] been a confirmation that electronics is an important issue to work on, and product stewardship is the approach to take," said Scott Cassel, director of the National Electronic Products Stewardship Institute. "State and local agencies cannot constitute to be solely responsible for their management."